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piece of apple cake with caramel sauce and ice cream
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4.75 from 16 votes

Moist Apple Cake Recipe with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

This moist apple cake recipe is a wonderful celebration of Fall. The cake is delicious on its own, but a real standout with a drizzle of silky bourbon caramel sauce
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings (change as needed): 12
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 grams) white sugar
  • 1 cup (237 ml) vegetable oil (or 1/2 cup/118 ml oil + 1/2 cup/118 ml applesauce)
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (250 grams) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 5 small-medium apples, peeled, cored and diced 1/2 inch/1.27cm (about 4 cups/472 grams chopped) Note 1
  • 1/2 cup Optional: raisins (72 g), walnuts and/or pecans (57 g)

Topping (Note 2)

  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon

Caramel-Bourbon Sauce

  • 1 cup (200) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (118 ml) half and half cream (or heavy cream)
  • 1 tablespoon Bourbon (optional, but good; use less if you like)
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter (if using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt)

Instructions

  • PREHEAT OVEN TO 350F/177C. Spray a 9 x 13 inch/22.8 x 33 cm pyrex dish (or Bundt pan) with oil and lightly flour it. To flour, add a tablespoon of flour to sprayed pan, shake to cover evenly, discard remaining flour.
  • MAKE WET BATTER: Beat eggs and sugar with immersion blender or handheld mixer for 2 minutes in a large bowl until fluffy. Blend in oil and vanilla.
  • ADD DRY INGREDIENTS TO WET: Put flour mixture of flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a mesh strainer sitting over bowl containing wet batter. Sift/shake dry ingredients through the strainer into the mixture in the bowl below. Blend well with a mixing spoon. Don't over mix. Fold chunks of apple into cake batter. Mix in nuts or raisins if using.
  • MAKE TOPPING: In small cup, mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside. Note 2 to make crumble topping instead.
  • BAKE: Pour batter into prepared pan scraping sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Sprinkle crumble topping on top of the cake batter. Bake apple cake for 35-45 minutes. Check after 35 minutes. If toothpick or tester comes out clean, it's done. If toothpick has batter sticking to it, bake longer until toothpick comes out clean. If using a bundt pan, bake the cake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick/tester comes out clean.
  • MAKE BOURBON CARAMEL SAUCE: Place sugar and water in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Swirl pan occasionally (don't stir) for 12-15 minutes until a medium to deep amber color appears. Careful that it doesn't burn. Remove from heat. Slowly add the cream while stirring (it will bubble up then settle down). Place back on the burner, add bourbon and butter (and pinch of salt if using unsalted butter). Stir for another minute until silky smooth.
  • SERVE: Serve warm cake or at room temperature with scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipping cream. Bourbon caramel sauce can be drizzled over the cake before serving or passed on the side.

Notes

  1. Type of apples to use: A variety of Gala, Granny Smith apples, Cortland, Empire, Northern Spy, Pink Lady, Braeburn or Fuji are great options.  One Delicious or Honey Crisp apple is fine, but won't hold their shape as well.
  2. To make a crumble topping instead:  Combine 4 tablespoons softened butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour,1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup chopped pecans (if desired) with your fingers until a crumbly texture is formed. Sprinkle over batter.
  3. Make Ahead
    • The apple cake can be made ahead and warmed in the oven at 350F/176.7C for 5 minutes.
    • It can be stored on the counter for a day or two in an airtight container. Or in the fridge for 4-5 days.
    • Or freeze it, well wrapped in plastic then foil for 6-12 months.
    • The bourbon caramel sauce can be made ahead and stored in the fridge in an airtight container for a week or in the freezer for 3 months. 
Nutrition values are estimates. You will likely have leftover caramel sauce so the calories and fat per serving will be less than what the nutrition calculator is showing. Unless you drown your apple cake in caramel sauce :)
Calories: 471kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 295mg | Potassium: 137mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 47g | Vitamin A: 185IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 2mg